Sometimes we don’t seem to be able to say ‘No’. Putting other people’s priorities ahead of our own. We put all our efforts into doing things for others, drowning in the work we feel we’ve committed to. When it comes to our own tasks, we’ve run out of time, or worse, we’re frazzled and exhausted. Not being able to say ‘no’ destroys our time management, our productivity, our creativity
How Do We End Up Doing Everything for Others?
We’re all part of the same team, if we don’t help each other out then we won’t get anywhere. It’s even harder to say ‘no’ when it’s our boss, harder again when it’s a client. It’s such an easy trap to fall into. But by saying ‘yes’ to everything is part of the problem; we are not causing others to examine why they can’t get it all done. Maybe we end up doing just the same, pushing our work onto others. The cycle keeps going, keeps getting worse
Why Can’t We Say No?
Saying ‘yes’ is a symptom of poor time management. But it can be much more than just that. Lack of confidence, not knowing how to assert ourselves effectively, a short-term approach; it’s easier to say ‘yes’ now and get it done than spend time negotiating, or simple, plain, old habit
What To Do About it
The obvious, throw-away, remark is: learn how to say ‘no’. That can often a lot be easier said than done. There are some easier steps we can take to make sure we concentrate on what we should be doing, what’s important to us:
- Identify if saying ‘yes’ is a habit, a default behaviour, that for the most part, you don’t notice. Start a journal and spend time to reflect on your day. When did you say ‘yes’ to a new piece of work? Why did you say ‘yes’? Just being aware of a habit can be enough to break the habit
- Are there a few culprits who are the worst for throwing work at you? Ask someone to keep an eye out for when a time draining colleague has you snared. You will get a call or message that you’ve ‘just got to take’. This tactic has got people out of bad first dates for decades!
- Know what is important to you, professionally, creatively, personally (click the ‘Follow’ button to ensure the ‘Goal Setting’ post comes straight to you). Just knowing this helps with the final step, being assertive
- The occasional ‘no’ can do wonders for your workload, because it makes others stop and think. It can be easy to assume that someone is saying ‘yes’ because they are able help, not because they don’t like to say ‘no’. Be mindful that it may come to others as a surprise when you do occasionally say ‘no’. Avoid confrontation. If the situation gets fraught, buy yourself time; use phrases like ‘Can I get back to you?’ Finally, appeal to their good nature when saying ‘no’; ‘I’m snowed under with x,y and z, is there someone else you can ask?’
A Gradual Ascent to Time Management Nirvana
Ultimately, saying ‘yes’ to everything and everyone will lead us to let others down. Saying ‘no’ is a skill that takes time grow. Take small, measured steps to start with. As you practice your skills will grow, and so will your confidence. Before you know it you’ll be back delivering what really matters!
Want to Know More?
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